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Code for Environmental Claims

September 1994

Note: The spurious use of environmental claims and claims which mislead by omission or by implication may not only bring the advertiser into conflict with this Code and the Fair Trading Act but may also cause confusion amongst consumers and potentially lessen their confidence in advertising generally.

This Code covers all advertising containing claims for environmental benefit and includes packaging shown in advertisements.

BASIC PRINCIPLES

1.

Generalised claims for environmental benefit must be assessed on the complete life-cycle of the product and its packaging taking into account any effects on the environment of its manufacture, distribution, use, disposal, etc. Thus absolute claims for environmental benefit, either stated or implied, are not appropriate.
eg "Environmentally friendly"
"Environmentally safe" "Environmentally kind"
"Product X has no effect on the environment" "100% ecologically sound"
are absolute claims and therefore not acceptable.

2.

Qualified claims such as "environmentally friendlier/safer/kinder" may be acceptable where the advertised product, service or company can demonstrate a significant environmental advantage over its competitors or a significant improvement on its previous formulation, components, packaging, method of manufacture or operation.

3.

All claims must:

a.

be able to be substantiated, and

b.

meet relevant local or international standards as appropriate if a particular benefit is claimed (eg "biodegradable", "organic" etc), and

c.

explain clearly the nature of the benefit,
eg "our product X is kinder to Mother Nature" is unclear and thus unacceptable but "our CFC-free product X is kinder to the ozone layer" would be acceptable.

4.

Advertisements must not falsely suggest or imply official approval for a product, whether by words, symbols or any other means.

5.

Claims based on the absence of a harmful chemical or damaging effect are not acceptable when other products in the category do not include the chemical or cause the effect.

6.

Scientific terminology is acceptable provided it is relevant and used in a way that can be readily understood by consumers without specialist knowledge.

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Advertising Standards Authority New Zealand, PO Box 10-675, Wellington 6143. PH (04) 472 7852 FAX (04) 471 1785 Email asa@asa.co.nz